The bad enrollment numbers Lufkin turned in two years ago has sparked conversation across the state as the UIL said it's nothing they've ever experienced before.
Livingston turned in faulty figures this past enrollment, but what makes it different from Lufkin's case is they never competed with those numbers.
The accountability in turning the correct enrollment numbers falls in the laps of the districts across the state. However, the schools are not alone in handling the final enrollment number. The UIL also plays a role in making sure schools don’t turn in faulty numbers to get a competitive advantage in athletics or other UIL competitions.
“The whole state is going to be talking about this. This isn't going to be East Texas or just this district talking. They're going to be talking about this in Dallas and Houston and everywhere because high school football in Texas is a different planet,” said Mike Phillips. “When something like this affects people the way this did, everyone in the state who cares anything about high school sports is going to be talking about this.”
Phillips is the sports editor at Corsicana’s Daily Sun. He’s been reporting in the sports arena for 30 years. Phillips has covered anything from the MLB to The Masters, and high school sports have never been off his radar.
“This thing was not just a small affair that happened. This affected a lot of people, a lot of teams, in a lot of different ways. It’s a shame and I wrote that in the column too,” said Phillips.
That column Phillips wrote illustrated the many ways Lufkin's incorrect numbers directly affected Corsicana who's been in the Panthers district for two years.
“Had Lufkin not played this year, the Corsicana softball team would be the district champs and that would have been a lot for that program. Also, the football team was so close to making the playoffs. They're in the playoffs without Lufkin,” said Phillips.
It's only a ripple effect from there when the other programs in Lufkin's district are added to the equation and then teams that faced the Pack in the postseason are also included.
The UIL said they have a procedure where people are assigned to double-check all figures that are turned in.
KTRE asked the UIL if they ensured Lufkin’s enrollment numbers turned in, in 2013 were accurate. They said they couldn’t give a definite answer.
“I can't say certainly that in October of 2013, someone double-checked that,” said UIL Media Coordinator Kate Hector. “Also, we double-check for discrepancies or outliers, and big changes from previous alignments. If this wasn’t a big change it may not have stood out.”
At this time, the UIL has no answers on how Lufkin's numbers could have fallen through the cracks as they're still investigating.
What may make the process more difficult is that there are about 1,400 UIL programs in the state and the UIL has 50 staff members in its entirety.
Livingston and Lufkin both said they did not realize you have to add enrollment figures from alternative schools. The UIL explained the rule is nothing new.
“That is something that's been in place for a while. It's not a recent addition,” said Hector. “Numbers are a priority for the UIL so it's something we take very seriously and take a lot of time and care on.”
That could explain in all the years the UIL has existed, Lufkin's case is the first of its kind for the school organization.
The UIL has a state executive committee. That group would be the one to impose any type of disciplinary action on a school or district.
As of now, the UIL has no automatic penalties in place for submitting incorrect enrollment figures.
The UIL state executive committee adjourned their last meeting of this school year. Any action could possibly not take place until the next school year. However, Hector said any decision to grant a meeting is premature because the UIL’s investigation on Lufkin is still ongoing and they don't know what information they will find.
The committee's meetings are open to the public for people to speak about the issues.
Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.